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Summary

  1. Work and Pensions Committee looking at gig economy
  2. International Development questions starts day in Commons
  3. PMQs at noon
  4. Then Theresa May makes statement on Article 50
  5. There's an emergency debate on changes to PIPs
  6. Following that, it's the Pension Schemes Bill
  7. Peers question government ministers and then hear statement on Article 50
  8. Main business in the Lords - Digital Economy Bill

Live Reporting

By Esther Webber, Julia Butler and Kate Whannel

All times stated are UK

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A historic day in Parliament

May
PA

That's where we leave our live text coverage of Parliament on what's been a historic day. 

In a statement in the House of Commons today, Theresa May announced that the process of leaving the EU had begun.

Britain's EU ambassador formally triggered the two year countdown to the UK's exit by  handing over a letter  in Brussels.

It follows June's referendum which resulted in a vote to leave the EU.

The prime minister told MPs: "Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people and it acts too on the clear and convincing position of this House."

She added: "The Article 50 process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the British people the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

"This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back."

BreakingGovernment defeated on ticket labelling

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 180 to 157 for Conservative Lord Moynihan's amendment requiring more extensive ticket labelling to deter resale.

Government resists ticket labelling

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The minister says he can't support Lord Moynihan's amendment as it wasn't recommended by the Waterson Review and would require a unified verification system. 

Lord Moynihan does not accept his assurances and forces a vote. 

'Ed Sheeran doesn't want to see his tickets counterfeited'

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Sheeran
PA

Conservative Lord Moynihan introduces an amendment which would require the name of the seller of the ticket, the ticket reference or booking number and any specific condition attached to the resale of the ticket to be provided to the buyer. 

Following the appearance of Ed Sheeran's manager before a select committee last week, Lord Moynihan says: "Ed Sheeran - or other artists or teams - don't want to see their tickets counterfeited." 

Move to ban ticket-harvesting bots

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Culture Minister Lord Ashton introduces an amendment which would make it a criminal offence to purchase tickets using automated bots, following the recommendations of the Waterson Review.

It is, he says, "an issue about which there is a widespread agreement". 

BreakingGovernment defeated on electronic programme guides

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 217 to 188 for a Labour amendment designed to ensure prominence for public service broadcasting on all TV platforms and electronic programme guides.

Minister says prominence for PSBs is unnecessary

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Culture Minister Lord Ashton denies there is a need to give prominence to public service broadcasters (PSBs) and their catch-up services on electronic programme guides, pointing to the "success and continued popularity of BBC iPlayer". 

He argues "if broadcasters produce excellent content, audiences will find it". 

But Lord Wood is not persuaded and forces a vote. 

Labour seeks prominence in TV guides for public service broadcasters

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Wood
HoL

Labour spokesman Lord Wood introduces an amendment designed to ensure prominence for public service broadcasting on all TV platforms, listings and electronic programme guides.

His aim is to guarantee that public service broadcasting "continues to be accessible and prominent to viewers as viewing habits change". 

MPs approve Pension Schemes Bill at third reading

House of Commons

Parliament

The bill is approved at third reading without a vote.

MPs begin a debate on flood management in the Fens but that is where we have to leave our coverage of the Commons.

Tomorrow MPs begin at 9:30am for questions to the transport secretary.

SNP: There is much more we can do on pensions

Pension Schemes Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams expresses "real disappointment" that the bill did not provide help for the Waspi women, referring to the women who are affected by an increase in the pension state age.

The SNP's pensions spokesperson Ian Blackford describes the bill as "a necessary step forward" but says there is "much more that we can do" particularly for those that are in part-time jobs or the self-employed.

'An excellent piece of legislation'

Pension Schemes Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Richard Harrington
HoC

MPs have voted to reject the amendment 286 votes to 188.

That is voting over for the moment and MPs move on to third reading of the bill.

Work and Pensions Minister Richard Harrington describes the bill as "an excellent piece of legislation".

Ofcom to gain new duties on children's programming

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Benjamin
HoL

Lib Dem Baroness Benjamin welcomes the government's decision to accept her amendment, which would require Ofcom to ensure a range of high-quality children's programmes are commissioned by public service broadcasters. 

This will help secure the "future of quality content for children and grandchildren" and reverse the "serious decline" in homegrown programming, she says. 

MPs reject amendment on master trusts membership

Pension Schemes Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs have voted to reject the amendment 289 votes to 187.

Next, MPs vote on Labour's amendment 1.

This seeks to introduce annual reporting and inclusion of transaction costs requirements for master trusts.  

You read more about master trusts and the Pension Schemes Bill here .

BreakingGovernment defeated on BBC licence fee

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 268 to 201 for on a cross-party amendment in the name of crossbencher Lord Best, setting up a new independent body called the BBC Licence Fee Commission, which would make recommendations to the secretary of state on setting the licence fee. 

That's all for today from the second chamber...

Breathing Space debate

Westminster Hall

We will leave our Westminster Hall coverage there for this afternoon, while MPs are away taking part in multiple divisions in the House of Commons. 

MPs vote on Master Trust schemes

Pension Schemes Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Lindsay Hoyle
HoC

MPs have voted to reject the Labour amendment 289 votes to 230.

Next up is new clause 2 which is a Labour amendment requiring master trusts to make provision for some form of member representation within master trusts.  

Peers vote on plan for new licence fee body

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are voting on a cross-party amendment in the name of crossbencher Lord Best, setting up a new independent body called the BBC Licence Fee Commission, which would make recommendations to the secretary of state on setting the licence fee.

Debate of Pension Schemes Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Next up is the Pension Schemes Bill, which seeks to provide greater protection for those who are enrolled in Master trusts.

Master trusts are multi-employer pension schemes provided by private companies, often used by smaller companies.

The progress of the bill had to be cut short last Wednesday following the attack.

MPs now pick up where they left off  - with a vote on New Clause 1.

This amendment requires the government to make arrangements for a funder of last resort in instances where Master Trust schemes have insufficient resources.

SNP: Scottish system has 'changed lives'

Breathing Space debate

Westminster Hall

Kirsty Blackman
BBC

SNP spokesperson Kirsty Blackman tells MPs that Scotland has the "lowest proportion of indebted individuals in the UK".

The system isn't perfect but it has "changed lives" of people North of the Border, she adds.  

Minister insists government should not consult on licence fee

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Ashton
BBC

Culture Minister Lord Ashton tells peers that when it comes to the licence fee, the "BBC will be able to make its case and government of the day will have to consider it". 

He says it's not appropriate to set up an independent body to recommend its rate, since "the licence fee is a tax and government does not seek advice on taxes".

Mordaunt: This is not about making savings

Disability benefits emergency debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Penny Mordaunt
HoC

"This is not a policy change," says Work and Pensions Minister Penny Mordaunt.

She continues "it is not about making savings, it will not result in any claimant seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP."

"These regulations simply restored the original aim of the policy," she concludes.

MP: 5,000 children in Blackburn living in debt situations

Breathing Space debate

Westminster Hall

Labour MP Kate Hollern welcomes the scheme as a "starting point" but says that it does not go far enough.

Cases of relatively small debt can "escalate" over a very short period of time with court costs, she says. 

The MP says there are over 5,000 children in her Blackburn constituency living in debt situations.   

Kate Hollern MP
BBC

Labour backs independent BBC licence fee body

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour spokesman Lord Wood of Anfield backs Lord Best's amendment, saying it's right that the licence fee and the charter should be "separated out so that the BBC has the resources to do what the charter asks of it".

This would help tackle "a growing suspicion of unwarranted political interference" by the government, he argues. 

'A piece of Parliamentary jiggery-pokery'

Disability benefits emergency debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Tom Brake
HoC

Lib Dem Tom Brake begins by thanking his staff who he says have a 100% success rate in appealing PIP assessment decisions.

He goes on to say that if the government wants to change the law because the current benefits system is too expense "then let's have a proper vote not this piece of Parliamentary jiggery pokery."

'Heartbreaking' number of children caught up in debt

Breathing Space debate

Westminster Hall

BBC
BBC

Conservative MP Caroline Ansell says there is a "heartbreaking" number of children in families who have fallen into debt in her constituency of Eastbourne.

This is not about writing off debt but giving people "time" giving children back their childhood too, she says.  

Rethink the whole licence fee, peer urges

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Maxton says: "The time has come to look at the licence fee itself." 

He suggests it's no longer appropriate to think of licences in terms of households, but should reflect individuals who are watching across different devices. 

What is 'breathing space'?

Westminster Hall

BBC
Thinkstock

“Breathing space” would stop interest, charges and enforcement action for those people and families seeking regulated debt advice, for a period of 12 months.

Proponents argue that where people in financial difficulty engage with their creditors, make affordable offers of payment and maintain regular payments, they should be protected from further debt enforcement.   

Debt charity Step Change is calling on the government to adopt a scheme that gives problem debtors 12 months' breathing space to get back on track.

The current Scottish Debt Arrangement Scheme, which provides debtors with a short breathing space, is often held out as an example of the type of scheme that might be introduced in England and Wales.

The government says it is reviewing whether to bring in such a scheme.

Call for new body to set BBC licence fee

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

BBC
Reuters

Peers now return to report stage debate on the  Digital Economy Bill , which aims to bring in a broadband universal service, grant additional powers to Ofcom in respect of information provision, consumer-switching and automatic compensation, introduce better controls on online pornography and protect citizens from nuisance calls.  

The first amendment is from crossbencher Lord Best, setting up a new independent body called the BBC Licence Fee Commission, which would make recommendations to the secretary of state on setting the licence fee.  

Debt collectors 'aggressively hounding' families

Breathing Space debate

Westminster Hall

Kelly Tolhurst
BBC

The debate is underway and Kelly Tolhurst begins by saying creditors are consistently "aggressively hounding" families for debt that they owe.

Debt has a "major impact" on young people within these families, she says. 

Bank of England figures  show that household debt has risen to its highest level since 2008. 

'Ministers need to stop mucking about'

Disability benefits emergency debate

House of Commons

Parliament

"Ministers need to stop mucking about," says SNP MP Corri Wilson.

She accuses the government of going ahead with the changes without parliamentary scrutiny and against an "independent judiciary ruling".

The bottom line, she says, is that the changes are about saving money "no matter the cost to our communities".

Lord Kerr: The country will not forget what was said in the campaign

Article 50 statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Kerr
HoL

Crossbencher and Article 50 architect Lord Kerr of Kinlochard welcomes the "conciliatory" tone of Theresa May's letter.

However, he adds the government "will be judged by the words of those on the front bench", drawing contrasts between the words of ministers before and after the referendum, warning: "The country won't forget what it was told."  

Lords leader distances government from WTO option

Article 50 statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Lords Leader Baroness Evans says the government has made it clear it does not want to see the UK fall back on World Trade Organisation rules. 

She reiterates her commitment to engage with Parliament at every stage. 

PIP 'not perfect'

Disability benefits emergency debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Justin Tomlinson
HoC

Conservative MP and former work and pensions minister Justin Tomlinson argues that PIP is a better benefit than Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

He acknowledges that it is "not perfect", pointing to the number of PIP assessment decisions that are overturned. 

He says that the majority of assessments are overturned when late evidence is submitted.

He therefore proposes that those making the assessment should be able to access the medical records of the claimant with their consent.

Labour MP Kevan Jones intervenes to argue that the problem is not late evidence but that the evidence is often ignored.

Lib Dems: Brexit diminishes liberal democratic values

Article 50 statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Newby
HoL

Lib Dem Lord Newby describes the activation of Article 50 as an "extremely sad day" but "sadness is a passive emotion", and his party does not intend to be passive. 

He says it remains his party's position that the people should decide whether to accept the final Brexit deal. 

He asks how leaving the EU can do anything other than diminish "liberal democratic values" mentioned by the prime minister. 

Abrahams: A shameful cut

Disability benefits emergency debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Debbie Abrahams
HoC

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams notes that the government has justified the changes by arguing that PIP is more generous to those with mental health conditions.

She argues that this is "completely refuted" by the mental health charity Mind.

"This is a shameful cut," she says and accuses the government of "balancing the books on the backs of sick and disabled".

She asks the government to publish an impact assessment of all benefit changes and the impact on disabled people.

Lords Labour leader asks for 'complete honesty' on Brexit deal

Article 50 statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Smith
HoL

Shadow Lords leader Baroness Smith of Basildon responds to the statement for Labour. 

She tells peers that "there will be some who look forward to new opportunities, others will despair" but all are facing "uncertainty". 

To Jeremy Corbyn's six tests set out earlier, she adds her own, "the test of complete honesty" which she says she will be looking out for when the Brexit deal is eventually reached or not reached.